Whenever I see an Alice Hoffman book, I think to the time I read the book and always get inspired to read it again. She has a way with words that just transport you into the heart of the story. I was an Army brat and grew up in a variety of different places. I would always make up stories about my neighbors and sometimes, I would even share that with them. One day, living in VA, I came across a woman, in her mid-thirties, that everyone in town was just drawn to. She helped everyone that came into her path. There really was something magical about her and she encouraged me to keep writing stories about the things that I witnessed, day in and day out. Eventally, we moved away and I always wondered what happened to Lily. When this book came out, I was immediatly brought back to that time in my life and I kept thinking, OMG, Alice Hoffman knows Lily! I know this is probably not the best review or if it even qualifies as a review, but reviews are not always just about what happens in a book. It's why a person can identify with the book that is importnant.
I read this in a literature class years ago, read the whole story over a weekend. It was a very easy read, and interesting, too. Then when class resumed the following week, my instructor delved into the details, such as Hoffman's use of symbolism, which I initially TOTALLY missed! This is the one that opened the door to other Hoffman novels for me - now I look at her work in a different light and it is captivating.
This story takes place in the late 50s in a community on Long Island, a former potato field where all the houses look so much alike that sometimes women wander around for hours trying to find their houses. Into this cookie-cutter community of stay-at-home mothers with perfect homes arrives Nora Silk, divorced from her magician husband, with two small boys. The house she moves into is reputed to be haunted and is slowly disintegrating.
Nora is not welcomed by the other mothers, as they have never known anyone who is divorced and they are suspicious of her (and afraid of what their husbands will do). One look at Nora in her stretch pants and spike heels and you know what the husbands thought! Her son Billy is shunned at school--it does not help that he can read others' thoughts. All Nora wants is to be accepted, grow flowers, and have some friends.
But to her credit, she never succumbs to artifice in this quest. Instead of acceptance, Nora is labelled as a witch and Billy fails every subject except penmanship. As for the rest of her life, she "crossed her fingers and waited, she thought good thoughts and experimented with casseroles that contained olive loaf and hoped that would be enough."
There is some of Hoffman's magical realiam woven into the story, but so adroitly that the reader hardly realizes it and must go back and re-read the passage. Hoffman's character descriptions are subtle and spare, but draw a complete picture of this neighborhood.
Another great book by this author!
Hoffman is always good; this book is no exception. I love the way magic is so commonplace in her novels.
Did you ever walk through a subdivision and wonder about the lives that go on inside the houses? Alice Hoffman does at giving us a peek.She masterfully intertwines lives of people living in a subdivision where the houses and the people appear to be cookie cutter same on the outside(except for one newcomer),but what goes on behind closed doors is very different.Very well written and kept my interest all the way through. Hard to put down.